Universities depend on gifts and volunteer support from alumni, local organizations and partners to keep their programs running. That means keeping alumni informed of important university information and soliciting donations, jobs that fall to a school’s advancement and development office.
These call centers face a unique challenge when it comes to creating a positive customer experience: Neither their customers nor agents fit the traditional customer experience mold.
Since they're not receiving anything physical in return, alumni, local organizations and businesses need more than the usual sales pitch. They need to be inspired. We all know how quickly some folks will end a call when they’re being asked to make a donation. The key to keeping them on the phone is personalization, and this rests in the hands of your contact center agents.
But agents in university call centers aren’t full-time, professional staff. They’re volunteers, usually students. While they know the university well and can share up-to-date information with alumni, they typically work shorter, part-time shifts and may have only minimal training. As their schedules fill up with other obligations or they graduate, turnover becomes another issue.
To address these realities, university advancement and development offices need contact center technology that provides advanced features while being easy to use. New agents must be able to jump in and start making calls quickly, and these calls need to be productive, so the system needs to make success easy.
Contact center technology: Making the impersonal feel human
Because contact center technology can be expensive, inefficient and full of disjointed pieces, it often doesn’t support the unique situation faced by advancement and development centers. You need one easy-to-use system so your agents (mostly students, remember) can quickly produce results with the little time they have to give.
Let’s look at some key features advancement centers need to create a positive and personal customer experience.
Automated outbound dialing. Since students have limited hours to spend making calls, you can't afford to have them sit idle. Automated outbound dialing keeps agents on the phone. The ability to screen-pop information to agents makes calls more personal, and displaying personal history about alumni empowers them to strike up meaningful conversations. For example, agents can tailor each discussion to the areas that most interest alumni, making them more likely to donate.
Scripting modules. When you need to keep training to a minimum, scripting modules are essential. Agents don’t need to memorize processes, making their job easier and reducing the time spent on each call. Advances in call scripting also remove the robotic element so often associated with contact centers. Intuitive visual scripting interfaces enable managers to easily create and deploy scripts that can be modified with zero down time. Also, dynamic manipulation of call scripts allows agents to seamlessly navigate between different versions, even while they’re speaking to prospective donors. Your agents can supply accurate information about why donations are needed and how they’ll be used – factors that are important for successful fundraising.
Recycling and callback. You don’t want to harass alumni with incessant calls, so you need the ability to set callback rules when no one answers or the call goes to voicemail.
Campaign management tools. Even the best campaign strategy will fail if you’re not reaching out to alumni and organizations at the right time and in the right manner. List segmentation tools enable advancement centers to deliver intelligent multimedia customer contact information. Automated data imports, scheduled reporting, managed list quotas and the ability to establish parameters around how each list should be processed are just some of the features available today.
Call analysis. The ability to record calls transforms customer interactions into a data record that can be analyzed. Contact center managers can determine what elements create successful calls, then work those pieces into new scripting modules.
Advanced reporting. Being able to identify the most productive time of day to make calls is critical. After all, you want agents making calls when they’ll be the most effective. By scheduling reports to run automatically, at any frequency, you can effectively measure success. Real-time monitoring delivers information “in the moment,” so you can assess what’s happening and adjust accordingly.
A one size fits all approach does not work
Look for a vendor that understands your needs as a university and offers a flexible solution. The right vendor will see the sale as more than just a one-time purchase. Like you, they’ll view it as an investment in your university’s ongoing performance. Because that’s what it is – you rely on these relationships and donations now and in the future.